Thursday, July 5, 2012
Raised on vegetables
My memories of the garden while I was growing up are good and not so good.
Eating a tomato sandwich for four consecutive days last week and the 100-plus degree temperatures made me reminisce a bit.
Mother worked at a factory in Hamilton, Ala. She would have to leave for work very early – like 6:15 or 6:30 a.m. My dad had died when I was 10 years old.
During the summer months, she would typically leave a list of chores that she wanted me to accomplish on a given day. It often included things like mow the yard, plow the garden (with a tiller), use the hoe to get rid of the weeds around the plants, pick the peas or dig the potatoes.
Holding that tiller in the row was tough and even left a few blisters on the hands but just like anything else, the more practice the better. I think I actually turned into a pretty good tiller driver.
Mother did not push me when it came to the chores or say things like “do this or else.” But at the same time, I respected her and knew if she was putting in eight hours a day (and often overtime) at the sewing plant, the least I could do would be to tackle the “to-do list.”
Plus, she was raising me in the church and on the Good Book, which includes favorite verses like Ephesians 6:1 – “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
I knew the chores would be waiting on me most weekdays but I’d still dread it.
There were times I came up with some excuses, but I knew better.
Most days, I would try to get the tasks done by lunch or a little after and leave the rest of the day for fun with friends in the neighborhood or going to baseball practice (sometimes about 20 miles on the backroads driving my small motorcycle).
I recall it being hot almost every day I worked in the garden. But I can’t remember too many 100-plus days. Rain was nice. It could get me out of those chores but at the same time it wasn’t so good either, because it might cancel the baseball games.
This was not a small garden that the Burlesons grew. We had it all – squash, tomatoes, beans, peas, cucumbers, cabbage and more.
I guess my least favorite task was shelling peas. I recall having purple fingers many times (from the purple hull versions). It seemed like Mother shelled peas non-stop in the summer months.
All of my hard work and sweat proved to be well worth it during those June and July evenings at the dinner table. We had some wonderful meals together and if we didn’t eat everything on a given night, we’d have the leftovers the next day.
I’m a lover of homegrown vegetables. I was raised on them. Pretty much all vegetables are my favorites.
Tomato sandwiches, with lots of mayonnaise, are wonderful. Adding bacon is fine but I prefer just the tomatoes and mayo, along with plenty of salt and pepper.
Squash is great.
I’ve eaten a lot of homegrown vegetables since leaving Alabama in 1986 but none will ever match those we planted in the soil behind and beside our house in Marion County.
I’m not sure what Mother’s secret was but it worked and worked well. She’s 81 now, and up until just a few years ago, still had a garden.
I miss those days – the eating of those fresh vegetables and believe it or not, the garden tiller, too.
News: (662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: (662) 252-3388
Questions, comments, corrections: email@example.com
The South Reporter
P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
©2004, The South Reporter, All Rights Reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced in any way without permission.
The South Reporter is a member of the Mississippi Press Association.
Site managed and maintained by
South Reporter webmasters Linda Jones, Kristian Jones
Web Site Design - The South Reporter
Back | Top of Page